There are FOUR different options for Mass Readings on the Feast of Christmas! As it depends on the Mass you attend (and the preference of the presider) I will limit my reflection to the Gospel readings.
Vigil Mass – Matthew 1:1-25
The Genealogy of Jesus Christ, with fourteen generations between Abraham to David, fourteen generations between David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen generations between the Babylonian exile to Christ.
The passage concludes with the angel’s message in Joseph’s dream to welcome Mary into his home.
Mass at Midnight – Luke 2:1-14
Joseph brings Mary to Bethlehem for the census, and there Mary gives birth to Jesus and lays him in swaddling clothes in a manger.
The angels proclaim a message of hope to the shepherds nearby, singing “Glory to God in the highest!”
Mass at Dawn – Luke 2:15-20
The shepherds go to Bethlehem and find the baby Jesus in the manger.
The message of the angels is made known to Mary and Joseph, and the shepherds return home praising God.
Mass during the Day – John 1:1-18
The Prologue of John’s Gospel reveals that Jesus is the Word of God who became flesh and came into our world, shining with a light that the darkness can neither understand nor overcome.
John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Son of God.
God loves us. Plain and simple. Warts and all. God loves us and meets us where we are, not in polished perfection and immaculate attire, but in a humble manger as a displaced person. God loves us so much that he sent his Son to die and rise that we might have eternal life.
May we all drop to our knees at some point today and say thank you…
Have you ever tried to get a gift for “the person who has everything” and been frustrated in the process? Everything we have comes from God…everything! The Lord needs nothing from us, but asks for only one thing: a loving heart that reaches out to others.
St. Stephen’s death serves as a sharp contrast from the glory Christ’s birth. Yet this contrast helps us engage in the spiritual battle that is part of our earthly life as we face our struggles with the grace of Jesus.
The Messiah is born! King of kings and Lord of lords, the ruler of the universe comes to us as a defenseless and vulnerable infant. Why? To get past all our defenses and touch our hearts with a gentleness that shakes the foundations of the world. Merry Christmas!
With the joy of Christ’s birth ringing in the air we celebrate today the death of St. Stephen, the first martyr. Why? To help us see the connection between the Christ’s birth and saving death as we offer our lives for the Lord. Thus, the Christmas spirit gives us hope to face the sacrifices of this life with the conviction that the Jesus Christ will guide and lead us to Heaven.
We rely heavily on our sense of sight to understand and navigate through this life. Light also plays a crucial role in our spiritual lives, and we look to the birth of Jesus Christ – the Light of the World – as the source of our hope that through Christ we will find the grace we need to make our way to Heaven. Merry Christmas!
The Christmas story touches our hearts and gets past our defenses. Why? Because babies evoke a loving response! God’s love story with humanity helps us see how the Lord – in taking on our human form – helps us to draw near through the gentleness of an infant. May the Christ child take us by the hand and lead us this Christmas to embrace our faith and give glory to God through the gift of our lives.
This painting held my attention at the Uffizi for several minutes, and I consider it one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Enjoy!
Adoration of the Child, Honthorst, 1619-1620, Uffizi, Florence, Italy.
The beauty and power of Christmas flows from a central point: that God sent his Son into our world because we needed a savior. Jesus takes on our human form and – like us in all things but sin – he redeems our fallen nature. While his mission will be fulfilled through his death, resurrection and ascension, his birth offers us hope; God comes to us, establishing a bridge over sin and death and providing us with a way that leads to Heaven.
To reach us the Lord sets aside grandeur and majesty, coming into our world in humility and poverty, vulnerable and in need of the care of others. Mary and Joseph, the angels and shepherds reveal that many played a part in the birth of the Christ child.
We do, too. As Jesus teaches us, we also have the opportunity to encounter the Lord and one another in simple and approachable ways, setting aside our obstacles and being open to love and service.
How is the Lord leading you this Christmas? How does the example of Jesus inspire you to reach out in love to others? Is God speaking to your heart?
The Lord’s birth shows us that with a gentle and humble spirit we can approach one another in grace. May this holy season foster our faith, strengthen our hope, and enrich our love.
Adoration of the Magi, Fabriano, 1423, Uffizi, Florence, Italy.
Christmas offers a rich opportunity for story telling amid the backdrop of the Great Story of the birth of Jesus. Fr. Andrew discusses some of the comments and insights he has received from his Facebook page, inviting us to consider how film can help us all enter into this holy season.